Ohio’s ban on trans youth in sports is the epitome of the conservative culture war on the LGBTQ community. Their obsession has reached pathological levels. Last week, Ohio’s Republican-dominated House approved a bill requiring genital inspections to prevent transgender female athletes from competing in girls’ sports.
In the 1960s, elite female athletes had to prove their sex by showing their genitalia to sporting officials. In 1966, after accusations of disguising men as women to compete in the Olympics were lobbied against Eastern-Bloc nations, international sports officials decided to step in and institute their gender certifications by with a mandatory genital check of every female athlete. This examination forced women to appear before doctors with their pants down or lie on their backs and pull their knees to their chest for closer inspection. It came to be known as the “nude parade.”
The practice ended in the late ’60s, but as we’ve seen with critical race theory hysteria and “Don’t Say Gay” laws, past is prologue. The myth of the gender cheat is propagating itself among conservatives 60 years later.
Waging war against minorities just trying to fit in and live normally is a staple of modern conservative policies. Based on their morally inverted priorities, transgender youth participating in sports is seemingly more dangerous to children than a ban on assault rifles. The GOP would rather legislate only one of them out of existence. And it’s not the one that’s the number one killer of children in the United States of America.
In over a dozen states, the familiar suspects have deployed their legislative arms to enact a series of senseless laws that target a tiny minority to appease an increasingly authoritarian base that finds strength in bullying. There is no looming threat of transgender women invading women’s athletics, and only 0.6 percent of the U.S. population identifies as transgender.
A select few, such as University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, have been successful in athletics after hormone therapy. However, the idea that anyone is undergoing gender reassignment surgery to medal in women’s track and field is a ridiculous sentiment shared by only the most smooth-brained supporters of these anti-trans bills.
In 2021, the Trevor Project’s National Survey found that approximately 52 percent of transgender and non-binary youth had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. If empathy and care for women were what was guiding these bills, complex discussions would be had involving medical professionals about hormone testing requirements after gender reassignments or about what a medically-sufficient length of time would be to minimize gender-related advantages for trans athletes.
When Utah’s Republican Governor Spencer Cox vetoed the state’s anti-trans in sports bill in a state with only four trans female athletes, he wrote a message explaining his position. In it, he adopted a compassionate and logical position.
“All the research shows that even a little acceptance and connection can reduce suicidality significantly,” he wrote. “Four kids who are just trying to find some friends and feel like they are a part of something. Four kids trying to get through each day. Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few.”
However, the cruelty is the point. In March, Florida’s perverse governor Ron Desantis issued an inconsequential proclamation declaring that Florida wouldn’t recognize Thomas’ victory in the NCAA 500-yard women’s freestyle. DeSantis has made punishing Disney, the Rays, the Special Olympics, and trans women a staple of his administration. Instituting draconian policies that will limit the rights of individuals they’ve garnered pitchforks against is what animates their fervently authoritarian base.
Trans youth are an easy target. Alabama’s Magic City Acceptance Academy has become a target of the right after it was featured in a gubernatorial attack ad. Its founding principal, Michael Wilson, told CBS local that the school had to hire additional security in the aftermath due to an increasing number of incidents involving men watching their school.
In their frothing anger, these legislatures ignored how this could be taken advantage of by overzealous parents of student-athletes. The vast majority of individuals involved with youth sports aren’t profiting off of them. Most coaches double as teachers anyway, and the Ohio law’s most far-reaching effect will be overzealous parents abusing it to make life hell for their kids’ opponents. If a parent thinks some tall, lean, pre-teen girl looks too masculine, they can recommend she be the subject of a demeaning gender check.
In the long run, Ohio’s gender verification law will be more harmful to young women than to the one transgender athlete competing in Ohio. But that would require them to care about protecting young women instead of using trans women as bait for their angry base. They’re both being hung out to dry and suffer the consequences.